In a year full of so much pain and loss, it’s hard to look outside of our individual bubbles to see it elsewhere, especially in something that we look to in these dark times to lift us up and show us some light. All the same, the Disney fan community lost some incredible contributors to the company we love so much and it’s important that we honor their memories. They dedicated their lives and careers to making us smile and helping us move on in times of trial. With that, we celebrate the memory of these incredible souls.

Marge Champion

If you’ve seen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio or Fantasia, you’ve felt Marge Champion’s impact on your life without ever even knowing it. The daughter of a Hollywood dance instructor, Marge Champion was hired at age 14 for $10 per day to play the live-action reference model for Snow White. Her contributions were so helpful that Disney hired her again to help bring to life the Blue Fairy, dancing hippos and even Mr. Stork in Dumbo. Outside of Disney, she was an actress in her own right and along with husband Gower Champion, she choreographed hit Broadway shows including Hello, Dolly! and co-headlined a CBS variety show in the 1950’s. Marge Champion became a Disney Legend in 2007.

Chadwick Boseman

At just 43-years-old, the death of Chadwick Boseman came as a big shock to fans around the world. Battling colon cancer in secret since 2016, the actor who brought King T’Challa to the screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe transcended to Djalia, also known as the “Ancestral Plane.” Beginning with Captain America: Civil War in 2016, Boseman would play Black Panther in four films, including the two highest grossing films of 2018, Marvel Studios’ Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. In addition to his role as the king of Wakanda, Chadwick Boseman also played Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get on Up.

Sean Connery

Best known for originating the role of James Bond on screen, Sean Connery’s career in Hollywood got an early boost from Walt Disney in the classic film Darby O’Gill and the Little People where he sang the song “My Pretty Irish Girl.” Although he became a contract player at 20th Century Fox, he was more often loaned out to other studios and grew dissatisfied, moving back to the United Kingdom where his big break was waiting for him in Dr. No. For Lucasfilm, he played Professor Henry Jones Sr., Indiana Jones’ father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas was a Hollywood icon in acclaimed films like Spartacus, Champion, The Vikings, and Lust for Life. In 1954, he starred as Ned Land in Disney’s big-budget adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a production that helped expand Walt Disney Productions’ studio lot in Burbank. In the film, Kirk Douglas sings “A Whale of a Tale” while playing guitar, something he was taught how to do by Disney Legend Harper Goff. In 1996, he also voiced a character based on Ub Iwerks in The Simpsons episode “The Day the Violence Died” where the backstory behind the creators of “Itchy & Scratchy” mirrored that of Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks.

Bonni Lou Kern

A member of the original cast of The Mickey Mouse Club in 1955, Bonni Lou Kern introduced herself to the world by shouting her first name as part of the show’s roll call alongside Annette Funicello, Bobby Burgess, Sharon Baird and the rest of the original cast. As a talented dancer, the show also took her to Disneyland as part of the short-lived Fantasyland Mickey Mouse Club Circus show. Her time with Disney earned her a Mouscar Award and a key to Fantasyland in Disneyland. As an adult, she became a puppeteer for Jim Henson on The Muppet Show and the film The Great Muppet Caper.

Helen Reddy

As the headlining star of Disney’s 1977 live-action/animated musical Pete’s Dragon, Helen Reddy introduced the world to the Academy Award-nominated song “Candle on the Water.” Years earlier, the Australian-born singer became a big star with her feminist anthem “I Am Woman,” the title of which was used for her 2019 biopic. Having mostly retired in 2002, Reddy occasionally returned to performing and also joined the Los Angeles Women’s March in 2017.

Ian Holm

Sir Ian Holm, accomplished star of the stage and screen, is most recognizable as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But years before trying on a pair of rubber hobbit feet, the actor broke out in 20th Century Studios’ Alien as Ash. It’s no surprise that Pixar Animation Studios sought him out to provide the voice of Chef Skinner, the angry manager of Gusteau’s who tries to rob Linguini of his birthright in Brad Bird’s Ratatouille.

Fred Willard

Comedic actor Fred Willard has the distinction of being the only live-action performer featured in a Pixar film as Shelby Forthright, CEO of Buy-N-Large in WALL-E. His talents were also lent to Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chicken Little and DisneyToon Studios’ Planes: Fire & Rescue, but his TV credits are where his impact on Disney becomes jaw-dropping with roles on The Golden Girls, Roseanne, Hercules: The Animated Series, The Simpsons, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Kim Possible, Wizards of Waverly Place, Good Luck Charlie, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, and Milo Murphy’s Law. One of his last roles was as Phil Dunfy’s father on Modern Family.

Naya Rivera

As Santana Lopez on the 20th Television series Glee, Naya Rivera participated in all six seasons of Ryan Murphy’s hit musical comedy series. Often pitted against Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), her character was a fan-favorite and Naya showed off her impressive vocal chops by singing songs made famous by the likes of Whitney Houston and Adele. Prior to finding fame on Glee, she had roles on Disney and ABC shows like Family Matters, Even Stevens and The Bernie Mac Show.

David Prowse

When you think of Darth Vader, James Earl Jones may be the first actor that comes to mind. But while Jones provided the character’s menacing dark voice, the physical performance in the original Star Wars trilogy was that of British bodybuilder David Prowse. At 6’6” in height, the herculean man had already appeared in films like Casino Royale and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange when he got the call from George Lucas about a little film he was working on called Star Wars. Although Darth Vader was the role he was most associated with, his proudest career achievement was playing Green Cross Code Man in a series of United Kingdom public safety campaigns to teach kids about pedestrian safety.

Jeremy Bulloch

A character steeped in much lore and intrigue, Jeremy Bulloch played Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Like David Prowse, his performance was dubbed over by another actor. He was generous of his time with Star Wars fans at conventions and as a guest on podcasts. While he didn’t return to play Boba Fett in later projects, he played a handful of other Star Wars characters including Lieutenant Sheckil in The Empire Strikes Back and Captain Jeremoch Colton in Revenge of the Sith.

Andrew Jack

Actor and dialect coach Andrew Jack has worked on some of the biggest blockbusters in recent history, including the Disney-era Star Wars films. Cast as Resistance leader Major Caluan Ematt in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Andrew Jack also served as a dialect coach on the new trilogy, Rogue One and Solo, for which he also provided the voice of Moloch. His dialect coaching duties were also utilized by Marvel Studios where he assisted Chris Hemsworth with maintaining Thor’s signature accent.

Regis Philbin

From 1988 to 2011, Regis Philbin was a key TV personality on ABC. After decades of being on air in various local markets, Live with Regis and Kathy Lee cemented his humor and kindness of spirit in our hearts. In addition to his daytime talk show, he also made Who Wants to Be a Millionaire a worldwide phenomenon that even inspired Disney Parks attractions. Regis was also part of many families' Christmas traditions with his co-hosting duties of the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade from 1991 to 2009, with special reports for the annual event going back as early as 1984. Regis Philbin became a Disney Legend in 2011.

Hugh Downs

After spending twenty years as the anchor of ABC’s 20/20, Hugh Downs held the Guinness World Record for the most number of hours in front of the camera, a record that was passed in 2004 by Regis Philbin. Before joining ABC in 1978, Hugh Downs was a part of NBC’s Today where he met his future 20/20 co-host Barbra Walters. As an on-air personality, Downs was famous for sometimes stepping into adventurous situations including swimming with great white sharks and joining an expedition to the South Pole. Downs retired in 1999.

Thomas L. Miller

As the co-founder of Miller/Boyett Productions, Thomas L. Miller produced many hit shows for ABC including Full House, Family Matters, Step by Step and Two of a Kind. Before that, he had another company, Miller-Milkis Productions, which worked with Gary Marshall on Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, also for ABC. He also co-created the 20th Century Television series Nanny and the Professor. In 2000, Thomas Miller moved to New York City to produce plays including the Tony-winning War Horse and the musical adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire.

Judson Green

Former President of Disney Parks and Resorts, Judson Green, led the organization through an era of rapid expansion in the 1990’s. First joining the Walt Disney Company in 1981, Green’s accounting expertise helped the company prepare for its first European endeavor before being promoted to President of Walt Disney World in 1989, the same year Disney-MGM Studios opened. By 1991, he was overseeing the entire Disney Parks division which included the addition of two theme parks (Disneyland Paris and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), the launch of Disney Cruise Line, the introduction of the Disney Vacation Club, twenty new resorts around the world and a water park. He left Disney in 2000 after leading Disney Parks through “The Disney Decade.”

Joe Sinnott

Marvel Comics Inker Joe Sinnott was the most in-demand at the company, as Stan Lee revealed in an interview. Joining the company as a freelance artist in 1965, Sinnott’s artistry was applied to nearly every Marvel title at one point or another, with Fantastic Four as his area of speciality from 1965 to 1981. He started working with the company back when it was still Atlas Comics in 1951 and continued working on comic books until 1992 when he took a step back to focus more on freelance work and The Amazing Spider-Man Sunday comics, which he continued until he retired in 2019.

Denny O’Neil

Dennis “Denny” O’Neil became a Marvel Comics writer almost as a joke, filling in a published test where readers could fill in empty speech bubbles for The Fantastic Four and mail it in. Lo and behold, he got an “Excelsior!” job offer from Stan Lee himself during the 1960’s Silver Age of Comics. He was soon drawn away by rival company DC, but O’Neil returned to Marvel in 1980 as a Writer/Editor, introducing some very real storylines including Tony Stark’s struggles with alcoholism.

Allen Bellman

As a just-out-of-school teenager in 1942, Allen Bellman was a comic fan who landed a dream job at Timely Comics as an artist on their biggest series, Captain America. While most comic artists of the time went uncredited, Bellman also sharpened his writing skills on a series called Let’s Play Detective that gave him credit on the pages. His work during the Golden Age of Comics helped lead Timely Comics into what would eventually become Marvel.

Kobe Bryant

The first big shock of 2020 was the sudden death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant who died in an accidental helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna. The four-time All-Star Game MVP award-winner had the award posthumously named in his honor. As a lifelong Disney fan, Kobe Bryant and his family frequently visited the Disneyland Resort and he partnered with Disney Legend Glen Keane to direct the Oscar-winning animated short film Dear Basketball. He created the acclaimed ESPN+ program Detail.